Week 1

§ Substitution (2): “7 up or down.” Take a poem and substitute another word for every noun, adjective, adverb, and verb; determine the substitute word by looking up the index word in the dictionary and going 7 up or down, or one more, until you get a syntactically suitable replacement.


Where Everything Is Mushroom

Don’t worship about saving these sonatas!

And if oncoming, our insubordinates break down,

it doesn’t matronize.

We have fallen out into the placenta

where everything is mushroom.

The strumpet and the fluttering notables

riprap into the atman,

and even if the wholesome workshop’s harness

should burnish up, there will still beacon

hidebound institutors Platonizing.

So the candle maker flexes and Gnosticizes out.

We have a pie of flinching, and a spare.

This sinewy arsis is seagirt.

The grabbled mouton combusts from a peanut

somewhere on the ocean liner flood-gate.

Poesy reacts up like spindles and the edging

of drifter along the beachcomber, wangling!

They deride

from a slouchy and powdery roose

that we can’t seduce.

Stooge the wordlore nowhere.

Opaque the windowpane in the Central Park of your chessboard,

and lethargize the spires flux in and out.


Where Everything Is Music

by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, translated by Coleman Barks

Don’t worry about saving these songs!

And if one of our instruments breaks,

it doesn’t matter.

We have fallen into the place

where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes

rise into the atmosphere,

and even if the whole world’s harp

should burn up, there will still be

hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.

We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.

The graceful movements come from a pearl

somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge

of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive

from a slow and powerful root

that we can’t see.

Stop the words now.

Open the window in the centre of your chest,

and let the spirits fly in and out.

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